So a few weeks ago Weezer released a new single and… it’s actually pretty good. If you haven’t heard “Back To The Shack” yet, I’d recommend checking it out. It’s catchy as hell and it displays the sense of humor that has always been one of Rivers Cuomo’s strong suits. So do we get excited for the new album now? After years of disappointment, have Weezer finally gotten their shit together? Well, that’s where it gets a bit tricky.
Weezer have came out with strong lead singles before and failed to deliver on the album. In 2009, Weezer released “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” as the first single off Ratitude, and everyone agreed it was the best thing they had done in years. The following album failed to live up the hype. It was full of tracks that were catchy enough, but rather soulless, and lacked the sincerity of their earlier efforts. Weezer seems quite capable of churning out one or two great songs per album, but they still fall well short of getting their mojo back.
But could their new album, Everything Will Be Alright In the End, finally mark their glorious return to form? Based on the lyrics to “Back To The Shack,” Rivers desperately wants it to be that way. He essentially admits that the last few records haven’t been that great, and flogs himself for searching for a new audience and alienating the fans of the first two records. In parts, the song almost reads like an apology letter. And when he talks about wanting to get back to “rocking out like it’s ’94,” you want to believe the actual album will live up to that promise.
One common pattern with each new Weezer record is that it tends to get a fair amount of critical acclaim (except from Pitchfork, of course), with many critics claiming it’s their best album since Pinkerton, and then it never sticks. After a few listens, the songs lose their charm, and the staying power that made the first two albums so great just isn’t there. That’s been the biggest problems with Weezer’s recent releases – a lack of staying power.
That’s going to be the biggest roadblock for Weezer with the new album. It’s one thing to write catchy power-pop songs that vaguely remind us of the early stuff, and it’s one thing to promise to never use a wah-wah pedal again, but it’s another thing to make music that the fans are going to actually care about.
In recent years, Weezer have stuck to playing the old songs on tour, playing both the Blue Album and Pinkerton in their entirety. While this was undoubtedly thrilling for the fans, it had to be a bit humbling for the band. It was an admission of a harsh reality: that the fans didn’t care about Weezer’s new stuff. While they might politely applaud after “Pork And Beans” or “I’m Your Daddy,” that wasn’t what they were coming for. They were there for “Say It Ain’t So,” “In The Garage,” and “Across The Sea.” The band had no choice but to oblige and play the old stuff, much to the fans’ delight.
Now, the challenge is getting the fans to actually care about the new stuff. We can hear an admittedly well-written song like “Back To the Shack,” and applaud a solid piece of songwriting, but it’s another thing to make us care about it. If five years from now, Weezer fans are cheering for the songs from Everything Will Be Alright In The End just as loudly as they cheer for “Buddy Holly” and “El Scorcho,” then Weezer will have achieved their goal, and finally made their long-promised return to form.